ADHD and ASD need criteria to be analyzed on a nuanced spectrum. There’s no single test that can recognize what’s going on. A new study suggests that a potentially fast, reliable option for detecting indications of these conditions is an eye test.
Scientists have successfully used a test named electroretinogram (ERG), which assesses the retina’s electrical activity in reaction to light, to observe different patterns of action in those with ADHD and ASD.
“ASD and ADHD are the most common neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed in childhood,” explains research optometrist Paul Constable from Flinders University in Australia. “But as they often share similar traits, making diagnoses for both conditions can be lengthy and complicated.”
“Our research aims to improve this. By exploring how signals in the retina react to light stimuli, we hope to develop more accurate and earlier diagnoses for different neurodevelopmental conditions.”
The researchers imply that disparities in the way the brains of people with ADHD and ASD work are wired – the different connectivity and the varied levels of chemical messengers like dopamine, for instance – are again reflected in the eyes. Prior studies have also revealed how the eyes can indicate what’s occurring in the brain.
There are helpful treatments to manage ASD and ADHD, but an adequate diagnosis is crucial. Further study is now going to be required to ascertain precisely how retinal signals differ in people with ADHD and ASD compared with the ones without these conditions.
“Ultimately, we’re looking at how the eyes can help us understand the brain,” says cognitive psychologist Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, from the University of South Australia. “It is truly a case of watching this space; as it happens, the eyes could reveal all.”